On the 2013 draft's opening night, the Harvin acquisition stood out as a smart plan. As expected, the first round lacked pizazz.
RENTON — Pete Carroll, chipper as ever, peeked his head into the media work room of the Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Thursday afternoon and grinned like a content coach seeking to be mischievous.
It was about 75 minutes before the first round of the NFL draft began, and Carroll looked every bit like a man who was going to have an easy night.
“You guys get to work,” he said, grinning wider with each word. “We’ll see you tomorrow.”
And in the Seahawks’ camp, that single joke passed for eventful on the first day of the draft.
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The Seahawks didn’t have a first-round pick because they threw it into a pricey package to acquire game-breaking wide receiver Percy Harvin from Minnesota last month. Since then, the Seahawks have hailed Harvin as their top pick, and because he’s been so productive at the young age of 24, it has been an easy sell.
The Harvin deal, which included signing him to a six-year, $67 million ($25.5 million guaranteed) contract extension, came with the obvious risk of devoting major draft assets and significant money to a player with a mercurial past. But the reward is that the Seahawks get the most versatile and physical receiver in the NFL, a dynamic playmaker who will add multiple layers to an improving offense.
On the 2013 draft’s opening night, the Harvin acquisition stood out as a smart and calculated risk. As expected, the first round lacked pizazz, with offensive tackles going in three of the first four picks and setting the stage for the Night of the Very Large Man.
Yes, there could be plenty of substance from this draft, depending on how you feel about the quality of all the players taken early who don’t touch the football. For many teams, the first round was either full of players who provide stability in the trenches and defensive backfield, or full of uncelebrated players who went high because you had to take somebody. We’ll check back in three years for clarity.
But the Seahawks were content to sit through a first round that started with Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher becoming the most anonymous No. 1 pick ever and ended with Geno Smith, supposedly the top quarterback prospect, leaving the draft’s green room without being selected.
It became clear that, if the Seahawks had kept their No. 25 overall pick, they wouldn’t have been able to do much to generate excitement. For certain, they wouldn’t have been able to draft a player with anywhere near the upside of Harvin, who has already played four NFL seasons.
The Seahawks were looking for a big-time receiver this season, and it’s interesting to consider what it might’ve taken to trade up for the best receiver in this draft, Tavon Austin. That’s what NFC West rival St. Louis did to get Austin. The Rams dealt their No. 16 pick to get Buffalo’s No. 8 pick, and the trade also included the Rams’ second and seventh-round selections, as well as the teams swapping third-round picks. Just think of what the Seahawks would’ve had to do to rise from No. 25 to No. 8.
The Rams received a player with great potential in Austin, but that’s quite an investment in an unproven commodity. On the other hand, the Seahawks got Harvin for a first- and seventh-round pick in this draft and a third-rounder in 2014. In terms of draft assets, it was less expensive for the Seahawks to acquire a player with 280 career receptions and proven Pro Bowl talent than it would’ve been for them to climb from No. 25 to get in position to take Austin.
If ever there was a year for general manager John Schneider to go against his instincts to keep his draft picks and make a bold trade, it was this one. He read the top of this draft perfectly. He brought a star to Seattle knowing that it likely wouldn’t come back to hurt him four years from now.
The No. 25 pick on Thursday night was a very solid cornerback from Florida State named Xavier Rhodes, a physical, 6-foot-1 player who can play press coverage and is the kind of tall defensive back that the Seahawks would like. He was a good talent who could’ve gone higher. That was the caliber of player the Seahawks chose to bypass.
But, once again, Harvin is only 24 years old, and he has shown he can carry an offense at times, which is both rare for a wide receiver and exactly what the Seahawks needed. In a game that has become about stretching the field horizontally, getting players in space and letting their speed kill, Harvin is perhaps the best in the NFL at it.
He was well worth taking the night off Thursday.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @JerryBrewer